Playing Pachinko and Slot Machines in Japan

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What is Pachinko and Pachinko Slots?

Pachinko is a popular gambling activity in Japan. Since no casinos operate legally in Japan, pachinko or slots have taken its place as a regular betting game for its locals. Over the years, pachinko evolved to include a slot machine, popular as pachislots. Pachinko slots or Pachislots are gambling devices that slowly invaded the local Japanese gambling scene. Many of the machines are located in parlours often seen in downtown business streets and shopping malls.

Pachinko machines were first built in the 1920s as a game for kids. It was inspired by the wall games of Europe. The machine got its name from the “pachin” sound made by the balls as they bounce off the walls of the machine.

By 1930s, the game evolved to become an adult pastime when it was reinvented by Masamura Takeichi. Takeichi added a complex arrangement of nails making the game more challenging to be played by children alone. The first commercial pachinko parlour emerged in Nagoya after the Second World War. Its popularity became widespread as it is easy to install and people wanted a different kind of entertainment.

How Do You Play Pachinko?

A game of pachinko is easy to play. Like a pinball machine, a moving handle fires the ball and your goal is to land the balls on the pockets as they go down. Once the balls falls accurately, it will activate a trigger that will start a sequence of events.

Here is how you can play pachinko:

  • Place your cash inside the machine.
  • Press the “Play” button.
  • Crank the lever that will allow metal balls to shoot out. Hold it so it continuously shoots out.
  • Wait for your winnings, if you are lucky.

Pachinko becomes addictive because of the reach. The reach happens when you are able to spin two similar numbers and players wait for the third number. As the reach is achieved, the screen will change. A battle then ensues between the specific number you need and other random numbers.

A player wins when three similar numbers are present. When this occurs, a song will be played and every ball in the machine will be converted to ten new balls. To collect the balls, the player must press a button that would empty the balls into a bucket.

While playing, you can order food from the café or request for help if you encounter any problems.

Tips When Playing Pachinko

  1. Do not bring your kids in the parlour. The game can be quite addicting and you may not be able to monitor your kid. The place can also be crowded and most parlours allow smoking inside. It is not an ideal place for a kid.
  2. Never take out pinballs or medals outside the parlour premises. It is illegal. Balls collected from the machines must be readily exchanged within the day.
  3. Consumption of alcoholic beverages while playing is strictly prohibited. You may celebrate your winnings after playing, when you are outside of the parlour already.
  4. Do not hog the machines. Never play with two or more machines at a given time. Give chance to other players to enjoy the game.
  5. Playing Pachinko may be engrossing and may cause you to become excited. Refrain from striking the machine.
  6. Do not shout while playing. You may distract other players.
  7. Mind your own machine. Do not look at your neighbor’s machine. Some players consider this rude and inappropriate.
  8. Be mindful of your belongings. Parlours can become crowded and you may lose your things if you keep them unattended.

How Can I Convert Pachinko Slot Machine Winnings to Cash?

Pachislots are deemed legal in Japan because of the understanding that players are there for the entertainment and not for the money. This is why a number of parlours in Japan look like gaming arcades.

Winners of slot machines in Japan are not given cash. The pachinko machines reward players with uniquely engraved pinballs. Winners often have buckets of pinballs, which they place into a counting machine that gives out tickets. These tickets can then be exchanged for novelty items or TUC gold cards that are then converted to cash from any TUC shop just outside the parlours.

How Old To Play Pachinko?

While pachinko is similar to arcade games, Japan has a law that states players must be 18 years old and above before they can play pachinko since it is almost similar to a gambling machine.

Can Foreigners Play Pachinko and Slot Machines in Japan?

Pachinko parlours are understandably enticing especially for foreigners. Parlours are easily spotted with their bright, neon lights and exciting noise that are really inviting. Foreigners may find pachinko a bit confusing but they are allowed to play, provided they do not do it for direct cash.

Be reminded, though, some parlours may have attendants who may seem suspicious of foreigners as most of their players are locals. Do not be discouraged, though. There are several pachinko arcades that are welcoming to foreigners. Some have staffs that are fluent in English, Spanish, and Chinese and are even willing to teach tourists how to play pachinko and pachislot.

Where Can I Play Pachinko Slots in Japan?

Since Pachinko slots is a popular game in Japan, you can literally find them everywhere in the country. Like the pachinko balls in the machine, the country is host to thousands of parlours from the islands of southern Okinawa to northern Hokkaido. Many of these parlours are near train stations and are quite accessible from hotels and apartments.

There are also various online casinos catering to the Japanese market that offer online slots.

How Can I Win In Pachinko?

The government regards pachinko as a recreational game but there are pachinko professionals who make their living by just playing the game. To win big in a game, one must be playing pachinko for quite some time to learn the strategies. More experienced players are able to operate the machine in swift motions without halting their winning streak.

To beat the machine, you must be able to understand it. These machines have small balls that move rapidly. As they go down, they can ricochet randomly as directed by the pins. They will eventually drop down at the center where a hole is blocked by two small levers or doors. When these “blockers” close, balls can easily fall into the hole. But when they are open, you may lose as much as three balls. While it may seem easy, the game can be quite difficult in actual play. This deceives beginner players who underestimate the game.

The trick of the game is in the knobs. The amount of twists on the knobs dictates the speed of the ball as it shoots out to the top of the machine. The place at which they bounce off easily change as they hit pins. What you should do is to look for a spot that will allow the balls to consistently jump onto the small hole at the bottom of the machine. To win, you must make 20 for every 1,000 Japanese yen. Some experienced players jam a coin into the machine to freeze it until they find that sweet little spot. For every ball that enters the ball, you can either get ten free balls or you get one spin on the virtual slot machine.

You must also wisely choose a machine. Look for the stats of the machine. A winnable machine is the one that has had fewer wins and loads of spins. Most of these machines pay out in several waves. You can check the wave of winnings by checking on the stats from previous days. Machines that are more likely to win big are those that won on increasing numbers from several days ago.

You can also win in pachinko by playing on new machines or Shindai. Since they do not have any existing statistics yet, they are generous on the pay outs. Reserving a spot will prove to be useful as wait times can take a while. Many of these machines remain generous for about two weeks.

Play pachinko at a parlours grand opening. Newly opened parlours have shindai machines.

What Are The Slot Machine Laws in Japan?

Since slot machines are everywhere in Japan, the government drafted national standard guidelines that must be strictly followed.

  • A slot machine must only have three (3) reels.
  • Each reel must have a button that a player can press to stop.
  • The spin of a reel must not be more than 80 revolutions per minute.
  • When the button is pressed, the reel must come to a full stop within 0.19 seconds.
  • The maximum payout per spin should not exceed 15 coins.
  • The credit meter should not go over 50.
  • Maximum bet allowed is only 3 coins.

While the national standard guideline imposed several restrictions, many players employed unique strategies to increase their probability of winning. Playing pachislots have gained a good following because of its better payout percentages. In Japan, the payout can range from 90 to 200 percent. Despite the regulation on the maximum payout of 15 coins per play, players can take advantage of the Big Bonus and the Regular Bonus clause where the 15-coin payout can occur repeatedly.

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